A while ago an article about a palliative care nurse went viral – she was sharing the most common regrets she hears from elderly patients on their deathbed. They revolved around some of the key pillars we all strive for in life – time, happiness, and respect for ourselves. ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. ‘I wish I’d let myself be happier’. ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’.
It made me realise that I’ve been guilty of believing that being busy and stressed out means I’m surely getting to where I want to be in my career. After all, society tells us that those busy and stressed out people are the successful ones – they have money, nice things and fancy cars.
But maybe that’s the wrong perspective. Maybe we need to take a good hard look at the advice of our elders, and start to change how we determine success.
It all comes down to what you believe success to be, I think. If success to you is being in demand enough in your chosen career that you are run off your feet – then great! Good for you, you’ve probably found it, so keep on going and conquer your world.
What I’m about to say might sound corny, overly sentimental, or even unrealistic – and if it makes you roll your eyes perhaps you’re better off reading one of my less controversial posts (try Oscar movies you need to see, or an incredible California road trip itinerary). I won’t hold it against you.
I believe that measuring success needs to be more about our internal balance between happiness and professional fulfilment, rather than an external comparison of outward success that manifests in a busy and stressful exterior.
That balance means taking time out, having downtime, doing nothing, doing anything that inspires you. Not all the time, of course any kind of success requires a huge amount of hard work! But it’s when I take real time out – away from work and pressure and stress – that I can more clearly reassess what I’m trying to achieve, what’s important to me, and how I approach those day-to-day situations that can drive you crazy. We shouldn’t feel bad about it, it’s crucial to a healthy mind – so be brave enough to buck the expectations of what success looks like, and take that time out for yourself, your family or whatever makes you happy outside of work.
Let’s work hard for the things that matter, set our goals with bravery and ambition, be inspired by the success of others, and achieve success our own way.
Let’s reframe what success looks like, let go of the expectations of others, focus inwards to define what our individual idea of success is, and commit to achieving it with unwavering determination.
Whether it’s owning a beach house, being able to afford to stay at home to raise your kids, having an early retirement, or finishing off the university degree you started 10 years ago. Success should be personal, in fact it needs to be personal in order to be achievable. Who’s to say what success means except you, and if you’re judging others by what success means to them – now is the time to stop, appreciate, and support their dreams.
What does success mean to me? It means affording the time to appreciate that which so many typically chase: life, love and happiness. It’s simple really. Downtime and daydreams, that’s what I’m after.
What about you?